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June 09, 2021 9 min read

Are you a guy on the skinnier side who's been following online guides on how to build big abs but not seeing results?

If so, then we're not surprised because most muscle-building guides aren't aimed at helping skinnier guys with lower levels of body fat. As a result, we've put together a guide specifically aimed at helping skinny guys get the ab results that they want.

Both Cristiano Renaldo and Brad Pitt are examples of skinnier guys with shredded bodies including big abs. You can build ab muscles like them by following this simple guide on how to build bigger abs as a skinny guy.

muscular man with six pack abs

Exactly How Skinny Guys Can Get Six Pack Abs

Here's the thing, if you're a skinny guy, then finding the right advice online on how to build lean abs is going to be challenging. That's because most guys aren't skinny. In fact, it's estimated that almost 75% of all American men are overweight or obese.

Therefore, most fitness advice online is geared towards guys who have higher body fat percentages rather than guys with lower body fat percentages.

So, as a skinny guy, you need to be careful not to follow advice aimed at helping men who aren't skinny. Rather, here's exactly what you need to do as a skinny guy trying to build bigger abs:

  1. Eat a clean, high-protein, and high-calorie diet
  2. Do hypertrophy training aimed at bulking up the body

Moreover, if you're trying to build abs as a skinny guy, try following a bodybuilding-style way of eating and working out. This method promotes building legit muscle mass while shedding fat around your belly area to reveal strong and lean muscle.

What a Six-Pack Diet Looks Like For a Skinny Guy

The first place to start building abs is not in the gym but the kitchen. However, as we mentioned above, be aware of diet advice online aimed at helping people with higher body fat percentages. This advice isn't effective for helping skinny guys build abs.

For people trying to build abs who don't have low body fat, the best diet advice is to reduce calorie intake to ignite body fat burning. With less body fat, strong abs are then revealed. This is great advice for this group of people. However, skinny guys need to do the opposite and up their calorie intake.

If you are a skinny guy, then you don't need to burn fat to reveal muscles because chances are, you already don't have a lot of body fat. Rather, you just need to build muscles. The way to do that is to eat enough calories to not only sustain your body but also induce muscle growth. And, as you already know, building muscles requires a lot of calories.

Therefore, skinny guys should follow diets similar to that of bodybuilders. These diets emphasize eating more calories than what you burn off in a day to build muscle. As a rule of thumb, you need to eat at least 2,500 calories per day to build muscle mass.

However, to get a more accurate number, you should hook up with a personal trainer or nutritionist. The point is that you want to eat enough calories so that you're not just sustaining your weight, but providing your body with enough fuel to build muscles.

At the same time, bodybuilder-style diets revolve around clean eating. While you do need to up your calorie intake, you also need to make sure that those extra calories are coming from healthy foods rather than crap foods. Clean eating promotes muscle growth whereas junk food leads to excess body fat.

What Not to Eat as a Skinny Guy Trying to Build Abs

As we mentioned above, certain foods promote muscle growth and others fat growth. The ones that promote fat growth are the ones you want to stay away from. Some of those include:

  1. Refined sugars and simple carbs
  2. Unhealthy fats including trans and saturated fats
  3. Processed foods
  4. Alcohol

Most of these foods shouldn't surprise you. All of them are linked to countless different health issues including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. However, alcohol is one that many people are often surprised about.

Many alcoholic drinks are very high in sugar and alcohol itself restricts muscle protein synthesis which directly inhibits muscle recovery and growth.

Even Brad Pitt gave up alcohol when he was training for his movies to get that trimmed ab look.

Related article: How Alcohol Impacts Muscle Building.

Eat These Foods For Bigger Abs

Want to know exactly what you should be eating to build bigger abs as a skinny guy? Well, here it is:

  1. Tons of lean proteins
  2. Whole grains and complex carbs
  3. Leafy greens and other vegetables and fruits
  4. Healthy fats

For starters, we can't emphasize protein enough because it's the primary muscle-building block. Generally, skinny guys need to eat between 1.2 and 1.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight to build muscle mass. Options for lean protein sources include:

  • Beef, chicken, and pork
  • Fish and seafood
  • Eggs
  • Beans and legumes
  • Protein powder

Additionally, whole grains, veggies, and healthy fats are essential for assisting with muscle growth. While you want to make protein the biggest element of your diet, you can't neglect these other clean food groups.

How to Workout For Six Pack Abs

You can get enough calories and eat as clean as you want, but if you don't work out the right way, then you won't reach those washboard abs. There's a lot of information out there stating that you need to do lower impact exercises for many reps to build lean abs. However, if you're a skinny guy, that won't do you good.

To reach hypertrophy, you need to do short bursts of highly intense strengthening exercises. Push your muscles to their limits for a few reps, break, then go again. These are the kind of workouts that induce muscle growth. HIIT is a good example of doing a few highly intense reps of one exercise, breaking, then going at it again.

The bottom line is you need to work out in a way that induces muscle growth. That means, doing only a few reps of very challenging ab exercises at a time.

How Not to Workout as a Skinny Guy Trying to Build Abs

It's really common to see different core challenges such as holding planks for hours on end or doing hundreds of sit-ups at a time. But, these kinds of high-rep workouts aren't going to help you build big abs as a skinny guy.

That's because the combo of lower-impact plus many reps does not stimulate muscle growth. Therefore, don't do sit-ups over and over and expect your abs to get bigger.

Do These Workouts For Abs as a Skinny Guy

It's pretty straightforward: Try to challenge your muscles as much as you can for short bursts then take a break. Do exercises that push your core muscles to their fullest extent. For example, if holding a regular plank for 20 seconds isn't very difficult for you, then do a single-leg plank.

Or, if regular Russian twists aren't challenging enough, then do them while holding a heavy dumbbell or medicine ball in your hands. The point is, to induce muscle growth, you need to challenge their abs to their extent. Only then will you see that six-pack of abs come through.

bodybuilder on the bar raises his legs up

The Best Ab Exercises to Add Your Ab Workout Routine

Ready to build muscle mass in your abdominals without doing the same old endless sit-ups? Then give these top ab exercises a try! Not only are they going to carve out muscles in your core, but most of them target several other muscle groups, including the back and shoulders. So, if you want a full-body workout, then give each of these exercises a try!

1. Planks

Planks are a classic bodyweight exercise for building washboard abs. Not only do they work out your entire core muscle group, but they also get at your shoulders, back, and obliques. If you want to get all the benefits of planks plus a bit of an upper-body workout, then opt for push-ups.

Get into the plank position by balancing on the palms of your hands and toes. Your hands should be placed right under your shoulders and your feet should be about hip-width apart.

Keep your back completely neutral from the crown of your head to your feet by creating one long body line. Once you're in position, engage your core muscles to isometrically hold the position. Hold for about 10 to 30 seconds, break, then go at it again.

2. Pilates

No, pilates isn't an exercise but rather a workout method. Unfortunately, it's sometimes given a bad rap by heavy lifters as being too easy and ineffective at building big muscles.

However, these people are mistaken as pilates is an extremely effective workout for both building muscle mass and toning the entire body. Instead of doing traditional strength training every day of the week, take one day to do pilates. You will be shocked at how difficult and effective it is.

3. Leg Raises

Leg raises, or leg lifts, are particularly good for targeting those stubborn lower abs. Start by laying on your back in a neutral spine with your legs fully extended and arms at your sides. When you're ready, exhale and lift both legs straight into the air directly above the hips.

Engage the ab muscles, then slowly drop the legs down to at least 45-degrees from the floor. Hold at the angle, then raise them back up. Be sure to move slow and controlled so that your lower back stays planted on the ground.

4. Russian Twists

Russian twists are another classic core exercise. Start by sitting up straight, then pulling your feet in towards your glutes so the knees bend. Slowly lean back to balance on your tailbone while keeping your knees bent and back straight.

Lace your fingers near your heart, then begin rotating your trunk from left to right. Make sure that you're rotating your torso but keeping your hips and lower body stable. To make them more challenging, hold on to a dumbbell in both hands as you twist your trunk.

5. Reverse Crunch

Start by lying flat on your back with your legs slightly bent and pointed straight in the air. Rest your arms flat on the floor for balance. Exhale and lift your tailbone so your legs raise higher in the air, then slowly lower the tailbone back down to the floor. The pace should be lifting the tailbone for one second then lowering for one second. Like leg raises, you should feel this in your lower abs.

6. Deadlifts

We've said it before and we'll say it again: Deadlifts are the king of all exercises. They promote muscle growth, weight loss, and muscular power. Not to mention they also contain a bit of a cardio element. If you want an overall stronger body including stronger abs, then you gotta add deadlifts to your core workout.

Place a weighted barbell on the floor in front of you. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and feet directly underneath the bar. Send your hips backward so you can grab the bar with both hands. Grab the bar outside of your legs, then thrust your hips forward so you come to standing. Squeeze your core and glutes, then slowly lower the bar back to the floor and repeat.

Extra Tips For Building Abdominal Muscles

​In addition to the traditional working out and eating properly tips, give these practices a try for a more toned midsection. While they're not necessary, they may speed up the time it takes you to get those big abs.

  • Try cryotherapy: If you're a guy who's struggling with the skinny fat dilemma, then consider giving cryotherapy a try. It's a technique that Christiano Renaldo uses to define his core. Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, is when you literally freeze your body fat by exposing your body to extremely low temperatures. You usually do it by entering a chamber where the temperature can be as low as negative 300 degrees. This induces a process called thermogenesis which helps burn body fat.
  • Eat junk food off of red plates: Is burning belly fat the most challenging part of building a six back for you? If so, then try this unusual but effective technique for reducing your junk food intake. Research shows that when you put your junk food on a red plate, you actually eat less of it. In one particular study, people who ate snacks off of red plates ate less than those who ate off of non-red colored plates. Therefore, the next time you cook up a cheat day meal, serve it on a red plate to avoid overindulging.
  • Add a T-Booster to your supplement diet: Traditional protein powder is a common and essential supplement for building big ab muscles. One supplement that is less common yet could be the key to you building more mass is a T-Booster such as our best-selling ALPHA-AF. T-boosters are designed specifically to up your testosterone levels to build lean mass. Not only that, but they'll help you lose weight in the belly area and up your drive. Unlock the secret to washboard abs with our ALPHA-AF T-Booster.

Final Thoughts on Building Abs as a Skinny Guy

So, if you're a skinny guy who's tried all the other ab-building plans and they've failed, then make this guide your go-to. Ditch the online guides that aren't aimed at helping skinny guys and opt for our practical tips. Before you know it, you'll have big abs like other skinny guys including Renaldo and Pitt.

Bonus tip: Want more exercises to help sculpt big abs? Just about every bodyweight exercise out there challenges every inch of your core.